Is bariatric surgery right for you?

December 28, 2015 Providence Health Team

If you’ve tried everything to lose weight with little success, bariatric surgery may be an option to consider.

Bariatric surgery isn’t a quick fix – it’s a commitment to living a healthier, more energetic life with surgical intervention to help you get there. The goal with bariatric surgery isn’t just weight loss; it’s improved overall health and the freedom to live your life more fully.

Being severely overweight or obese is nothing to be ashamed of. But it can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. And it still carries a stigma. Others’ perceptions can make it hard to share your feelings about weight struggles – and even harder to seek help. Additionally, carrying extra weight can lead to a number of chronic health conditions that threaten your well-being and prevent you from living the life you want.

Although it’s not for everyone, bariatric surgery has the potential to change your whole outlook on life. Hear from patients who’ve undergone the surgery at one of our affiliated medical centers, and are now on the other side, experiencing life in a new way.

Who can have bariatric surgery?

There are a number of surgical options to explore, including gastric bypass and the gastric band. A good place to start the conversation about whether bariatric surgery is right for you is with your primary care provider. Some of the basic requirements include:

  • Being unsuccessful after repeated attempts to lose weight with diet and exercise
  • Having a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or greater
  • Having a BMI of between 35 and 39.9 in combination with a weight-related health problem, such as Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure

If you’re seriously interested, you’ll likely want to meet with a team of health professionals associated with the surgical weight-loss program you choose, including a doctor, dietitian, psychologist and surgeon. Together with you, they’ll assess your health and readiness, and make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks.

What happens with bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not an easy path to weight loss, although it can be an effective one. It’s an important tool that can help you lose weight, feel better and prevent or reverse weight-related medical conditions. Here are some of the things you can likely expect after surgery:

  • Weight loss: It often happens quickly at first, then ebbs and flows for a while, continuing for as long as two to three years after surgery.
  • Meal changes: You’ll need to eat smaller meals, with a focus on high-protein options.
  • Nutrition: The surgery can sometimes make it harder for the body to absorb nutrients from food, so you’ll need to speak with your doctor about food choices and supplements.

What are the benefits?

Bariatric surgery can bring major positive changes—both physical and emotional. The potential benefits of bariatric surgery include:

  • Significant weight loss
  • A reduction or prevention of conditions related to being overweight or obese, including diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint pain and strain, gastroesophageal reflux disease and cardiovascular dysfunction
  • Increased energy
  • A longer life as a result of fewer medical challenges

Want to talk to someone about bariatric surgery, but need a doctor? Find a provider in your area.

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